Norman Ambrose wants to cater to the jet-setting modern woman who not only knows what she wants, but wants to look good while doing it. The designer's Spring/Summer 2012 collection is full of mystery and glamour encapsulated in sleek black styles and elegant metallic gowns. Inspired by the movie Murder on the Orient Express, Ambrose has a simple aesethetic: “everything is very rich: lots of gold, red, green, black, turquoise even," he told Uinterview exclusively.
Ambrose grew up in California attending school in San Francisco and Milan, where he was given the chance to work with Versace and Bottega Veneta. The designer started making sketches of his own clothes at the age of 12, moved to New York at 23 and launched his own line at 25. So whose the Norman Ambrose woman? "These are women who travel all over the world and the collection was based on traveling to the French and Italian Rivieras, so places like Capri or St. Tropez," he told Uinterview. "Back then, they were destinations that really did take quite a long time to get to. They were less accessible than today, and just kind of the fantasy behind that, the glamor and the mystery."
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- Q: Tell us bit about your experience doing New York Fashion Week in September and what the inspirations for that collection were. - Uinterview User
- A: The inspiration was really the jet-set of the mid-twentieth century; we've got the 60's, the 70's. These are women who travel all over the world and the collection was based on traveling to the French and Italian Rivieras, so places like Capri or St. Tropez. Back then, they were destinations that really did take quite a long time to get to. They were less accessible than today, and just kind of the fantasy behind that, the glamor and the mystery. Metallic was a very strong theme for me — based off of the sun — so the collection was just loaded with laminate fabrics and a new technique of laminating our suiting, the beading, et cetera.
- Q: Do you have any specific pieces that stand out as your favorites? - Uinterview User
- A: Well, I love the first look, the plain black and gold suit. I think it's just very clean and modern, but it's the same woman that could wear my classic ball gown. Favorite pieces are all so different; they vary for me, as far as construction's concerned. I love the gown, the last one. It's so simple and clean and I think very sexy and attractive.
- Q: Do you have a specific type of woman who you view as wearing your clothes? - Uinterview User
- A: Well, they live in larger cities like Chicago, New York or Boston. They travel. They have houses, whether it be in Palm Beach, Nantucket, Como and the like. They travel to resorts on a regular basis — it's part of their lifestyle. So this collection caters to that in essence, that escapism, kind of the mentality of these fun, special things that can be worn to galas or cocktail parties. And I think I also did a nice selection of things that can be worn in the city or back home, so to speak, so they're a little bit more geared toward a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
- Q: You've done projects in the past with Versace and Bottega Veneta. Tell us a little about the process of launching your own label. - Uinterview User
- A: Well, it's no easy feat, I'll tell ya! Market research is a large part of it. Understanding who your customer is, who you're targeting, and what type of product you want to create. Once you decide what that is, you have to find the right resources. That's everything from manufacturing, raw materials, and staffing the correct skilled people to assemble your team. It's a team effort — I can't do this by myself. I have a wonderful team that supports me: pattern-makers, cutters, seamstresses, tailors, hand-finishing. Everything's finished by hand, at least that we manufacture in my atelier. So it's a culmination of effort of finding these resources to have a support system so you can manufacture and walk the walk, so to speak.
- Q: Describe your creative process of how you conceive a look and where in your mind it comes from. - Uinterview User
- A: Well, I love to read. I read a lot of historical biography, fact. Fantasy's fun too, but the historical part kind of grounds my imagination — it's a place in time, and that helps me with inspiration, so to speak. When I'm designing, I usually start with selecting fabrication and kind of a direction. So while I'm reading and researching a subject in which I'm particularly interested, I research fabrics, colors, embroideries, furs and prints — all the elements that would create a collection. I research in tandem as I learn about the subject that I'm using, and then, from the selections, I begin to sketch. For me, that's very difficult. I mean, obviously I can have a concept and I can sketch it — and I do that — but I like to work from fabric, because then I can understand how it will tailor, how it will drape, what it's going to do on the body, and then I refine the sketch. One look, for example, I can re-work 15, 20, 30 times. That goes also as we start to do the first fitting and begin sewing the sample. It might not be right, so we'd have to rip it apart, change something, or re-draft. It's kind of an ongoing evolution.
- Q: Now, you've just finished one show, but you're already getting ready for February, as well, at this point. - Uinterview User
- A: It's literally right around the corner (laughs).
- Q: Can you give us a little bit of a preview to what you're working on and what your inspirations are for February? - Uinterview User
- A: It's very luxurious — I don't like to spare on the luxury. Lots of embroidery, beautiful colors. It's a departure. I don't want to say too much because the statement has to be very precise, and I'm still entertaining the different elements, but everything's been selected. It's kind of like the movie "Murder on the Orient Express." That's kind of the core feel to this.
- Q: Tell us more, especially about how that movie ties in to the collection. - Uinterview User
- A: I'm taking different elements of all the different passengers, whether they be Hungarian, Russian, British, American or Chinese, and working them together to be kind of harmonious. I'm creating a collection with different spirits and feelings within the clothes; however, they all work together, merchandize together. Everything is very rich: lots of gold, red, green, black, turquoise even. It's a departure. I want this to be a fantasy collection. Wearable, but fantastic.
- Q: Are you planning to open a boutique in New York or elsewhere? - Uinterview User
- A: Well, we have a showroom and we do host private clients. One day, that would be divine. I'd love to have a centralized, beautiful boutique in New York — a townhouse made of beautiful masonry.
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